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This weeks column for 24Hrs ( a day late) : ” No cause to spy on grannies.”

Sorry for the belated post- you’ll have missed out on voting this week if you didn’t get an actual paper or read online- but I was out of town until late yesterday in Whistler.

This week, Brent and I debated this question: ” Should law enforcement conduct surveillance on environmental activists to prevent extremism?”

Last week, news reports that 71-year-old Lesslie Askin was the subject of a national security investigation — as a result of taking photos for a presentation to the National Energy Board — had many questioning the actions of the RCMP.

Concerned about the condition of the tanks and wanting to share this in her presentation in opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project, she headed out to the company’s Burnaby’s terminal and took photos. She didn’t trespass, nor did she break any laws, but her vehicle was reported to the RCMP by Kinder Morgan security.

Ironically, the tanks Askin photographed didn’t even belong to Kinder Morgan — she had unwittingly snapped pictures of Shell’s tanks, yet the company still made the call. More than a week later, members of the RCMP E-division Integrated National Security Enforcement Team showed up at her home to ask a few questions, much to her shock and surprise.

Askin now says she is worried she’ll be in the database forever as having been investigated as a potential terror suspect.

This comes following documents published by the Toronto Star last week that revealed the government, including RCMP and CSIS, has been monitoring everything from peaceful protests to university lectures — since 2006. It’s not just threats to national security being monitored, it’s benign intellectual conversations and events.

Not surprising when you consider the many groups and individuals targeted for simply speaking out and voicing opposition to Enbridge. In fact, the BC Civil Liberties Association filed a complaint against both agencies for illegally monitoring and spying on the “peaceful, democratic activities of community groups and First Nations opposed to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project.”

Read Brent Stafford’s columnhere.

Seriously? Is monitoring and spying on regular citizens who also happen to oppose a project that could have serious consequences for our province, really worthy of RCMP and CSIS resources? With new anti-terror legislation, anyone who stands in opposition to a project could be considered a threat, by interpretation of the law. Organize a protest? You might want to look around for regulation haircuts…

READ the rest of this weeks column here, but voting and comments are now closed!


  1. You’ll understand if I don’t comment on this article except to express my continued support and satisfaction with the police and their masters. Yours is such a hard job – grannies can get ugly. You have my complete obedience. To anyone who doesn’t love what Harper tells us to love, I say, take their camera, taser ’em, ‘jail ’em’ and throw away the key. No ‘Depends’! And don’t stop with just the old people. Get those young ones, too! And people with dark hair! And the damn blonds as well! And those parents! And all the kids! It is getting so that the only people you can trust these days are the oil companies!


  2. All that time, money, wasted on one person taking photographs. What would happen, if, instead of protesting in downtown Vancouver, take the crowds to the Kinder Morgans plants, with or without notification to the Press. Peaceful protest. PS Don’t drive, you know, license plates will be traced back to the Grandparents


  3. Kinder Morgan must have gotten a lot of flak from someone with clout. They’re now back-pedalling like crazy, even offering to open the gates to their ‘tank farm’ to Ms. Askin so that she can get better photos!


  4. When will the big bad boys stop trying to bully ordinray people period ! You can bet that if that is the way that our bullying prime minister wants to work, his backing oil companies and corporations will only be too happy to oblige.
    What a comforting feeling it is, to live in a real democratic country – the envy of the world (NOT).
    It sure seems that the large corporation get free passes to do what they like – grrrrr!
    Kinda makes you sick doesn’t it.


  5. Lew you make a good point.

    Taking pictures of a company isn’t against the law, yet, in this country. If the RCMP is responding to corporate demands in this manner, I can hardly wait until something serious happens. Oh, I know, they’ll be too busy with putting lawbidding citizens under surveillance.
    This is just another e.g. of harper and his herd attempting to bully Canadians. I can hardly wait until the china trade agreement comes into force.

    The RCMP ought to be taking care of that serve and protect stuff for the tax paying citizens of this province not acting as the security firm for multi national corporations. Whether the person taking pictures is a terrorist or not, there is no law against taking pictures. Until there is, the RCMP might want to spent just a tad more time keeping track of sexual predators. Just think, if they had spent the time following sexual predators instead of ordinary citizens, involved in politics, their community, their environment.


  6. Or better still, make a serious effort to find and arrest the people that are responsible for the 2,000+ missing FN women.
    RCMP protectors of the people – I think not. More like hired hands for the current conservative federal government. Note that Nigel Wright gets a pass for bribing a sitting parliamentarian (senator), yet Mike Duffy gets charged with 31 counts of breaking the law.
    Things that really make you wonder what on earth is going on in Ottawa.


    • About the missing native women, one must ask the question of who in our society has the easiest access to and the least chance of being caught and if caught the likelihood of it being covered up.


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